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Alan Garvey

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How to boost your leadership training investment


Are you defining your leadership competencies properly? Alan Garvey offers the community some great advice.
At a time of greater accountability, the increased need for transparency and more stringent performance measurements, leadership training for your entire team is a worthwhile and necessary investment. However, simply filling in the gaps in leadership performance and adhering to related training programmes may not be the most effective approach to building expertise. While higher-lever positions require higher-level skills, a lack of baseline skills could put your entire organisation at risk. After all, what's the use in placing a roof on a building without a foundation?

The hierarchical build

Research shows that many of the core competencies mastered by successful leaders exist in a well-designed hierarchal build. For example, you need to practise 'active listening' before you can effectively manage team conflict or facilitate workshops. If you aren't seeing results from your current leadership training programme, it may be necessary to delve deeper and audit core competencies first.
From a training perspective, acquiring leadership skills is like building a house —it's progressive. First you dig a hole for the foundation; then you pour the concrete for the basement; next come the walls and finally the roof. If your training is tailored to bolster and build progressively upon desired skillsets, your team will be fully equipped to apply higher level expertise and you'll get more value—and greater achievement—out of your training investment.
"If your training is tailored to bolster and build progressively upon desired skillsets, your team will be fully equipped to apply higher level expertise and you'll get more value—and greater achievement—out of your training investment."

The complex interdependencies among leadership competencies

There are three interconnected skill categories that define leadership expertise: Stakeholder management, high-performing team development and interactive skills. No one category is more important than the other—effective leaders interchangeably utilise all three skillsets on a regular basis. Furthermore, the three categories are somewhat interdependent.
Within each category, there are core competencies that must be learned, in order to achieve mastery and successful application of the skill. For instance, poor communication skills will hinder a leader's ability to influence stakeholders effectively. And, failure to learn and utilise negotiating skills inhibits successful execution of stakeholder management, which in turn affects team development and its performance.

Take these critical steps to ensure effective leadership training

A simple shift is all it takes to address leadership deficiencies. Mapping a training plan that focuses on the hierarchal build of critical skills will equip your team with a full set of tools to apply throughout any project lifecycle.
To get started: 
  • Assess your leadership team's areas of strength and weakness
  • Determine which leadership competencies are necessary to execute the job
  • Define and prioritise specific skillsets that can be addressed through your new training approach
  • Assess leadership training programme and alter approach and metrics as necessary

Important questions to ask

Before you get started in developing the right training programme for your organisation, consider the depth of leadership training you need, identify the performance improvements you would like to see and identify any gaps that currently exist. Prior to launching your training programme, ask the following questions:
  • Was there an initial audit of your leadership team's skill levels
  • Does your current training approach tend to change behaviour, but still falls short of goals?
  • Is your organisation addressing symptoms, but failing to diagnose root causes?
A core competencies audit can work wonders to improve your training investment while equipping future leaders with the right skills. After all, a training programme is meant to elicit sustained, measurable results to improve overall business performance. Well-trained leaders will not only contribute to more work engagement, but also to a better bottom line.
Alan Garvey is managing director - EMEA and Asia - of ESI International. He leads a regional team of professionals who are responsible for all aspects of ESI learning programme development and delivery. Alan focuses primarily on identifying new markets and working with new and current clients to ensure ESI consistently exceeds expectations


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